Principal Licensure and Training Programs

The requirements for becoming a principal vary based on whether you want to work in public or private schools. Read on for information on how to become trained and licensed for these two career paths. Explore the typical coursework in a graduate degree program in school administration. Schools offering Principal Licensure degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

School principals manage school finances, supervise teachers, and oversee student learning outcomes. As such, they need to be skilled in such areas as budgeting and management while also understanding psychology and learning. Experience as a teacher is helpful, but direct instruction and practicum experience is also necessary to prepare for certification exams and licensure.

Courses Race, equity and leadership, schools and the law, education financing and budgeting, implementing inclusive education, school design workshop
Degrees MS in Education, M.Ed. in Educational Administration or Leadership
Licensing Requirements vary by state but most require a master's degree, a background check and a passing score on licensure exam

How Can I Become a School Principal?

To work as a public school principal, you need to pass your state's certification requirements for school administrators. The specifics of these laws vary, but detailed, up-to-date information can be found at your State Board of Education website. In many states, you may only apply for principal certification after you receive teacher licensure and work in the field for several years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of school principals hold graduate degrees. Common degrees in this field are Master of Science in Education and Master of Education in Educational Administration. Fully online programs are common; other alternative learning options are weekend-only, summer-intensive and evening-based programs.

Private school administrators are not subject to State Board of Education standards. You most likely need an appropriate graduate degree in order to find a job as a private school principal, but you may not have to become licensed.

What Courses Will I Take?

In a master's degree program, you can expect to take courses across a wide array of subject areas, including:

  • School finance
  • Education law
  • Curriculum planning
  • Educational psychology

Some programs offer several electives, allowing you to deepen your knowledge of one or more aspects of school administration. Others, including fast-track degree programs, streamline the curriculum so that all students take the same courses in a set order.

How Can I Become Licensed?

In order to meet state school administrator licensure standards, you have to complete practicum hours, take an exam (often the School Leaders Licensure Assessment Praxis) and take a series of courses dealing with different aspects of school leadership and administration. You may see courses in community relations, pedagogy and using the media in education. These courses are given in principal certification programs, which are frequently available in conjunction with master's degree programs in education and school administration.

What Skills Should I Have for This Career?

School principals must be able to multitask. The job requires a high level of organization, management and communication skills. Often, school principals work with teachers to develop curriculum and make sure students are meeting state and federal learning objectives. Some principals spend time fundraising for their schools.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »